The Indianapolis Colts (5-6) sit a game back in the AFC South with five to play. Colts players know to bypass the Tennessee Titans (6-6) and division-leading Houston Texans (6-5) they need a win streak.
“We understand that we have to run the table, point blank,” tight end Dwayne Allen said, via the Indy Star. “In order to have a realistic chance, we have to run the table. You can either be intimidated by that or get excited. Because that means that the coaching staff, the coordinators, the players are going to give it everything we absolutely have to win a football game. And that’s exciting football.”
Andrew Luck‘s return from concussion gives the Colts the best quarterback in the division. While all other parts of Indy’s team remain in question, that’s a distinct advantage in a wide open AFC South.
The failure to lock down a forth-quarter lead versus the Texans in Week 6 now looms extremely large for Chuck Pagano’s squad.
“Like I told (the players), there is no margin for error,” the coach said. “We have had our ups and had our downs, and that’s life in the NFL. That’s life in general. It’s all how you respond, so I expect these guys to respond like they usually do.”
The Texans currently own the easiest remaining schedule in the division, based on remaining opponent win percentage this season. Houston’s opponents have a .384 winning percentage (2nd easiest in NFL). The Colts have the 21st toughest strength of schedule at .473. The Titans sit at 15th with .523.
Let’s take a look at the remaining schedules:
The Week 14 matchup between the Colts and Texans could be for the division lead, putting the winner in the tenuous catbird seat. The two road matchups for Indy in Weeks 15 and 16 could be brutal — especially if the Raiders are playing for the No. 1 seed. Coming off a bye, the Titans have a callous two-game stretch versus AFC West powers battling for playoff positioning. The Texans get a reprieve versus Jacksonville and Cincinnati, both battling for draft position.
You could make a case for all three teams winning the division. Each is flawed in their own depressing way. With the best quarterback in the division, the Colts‘ hope of returning to the postseason have a slight glimmer.
Running the table might not even be necessary. It’s conceivable each team ends up 8-8. The first to 9-7 might clinch.